New Labels Could Help Shoppers Avoid Unhealthy Foods


The UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism’s News21 program and Good Magazine recently announced the winners of the Rethink the Food Label competition. Entrants, who ranged from public citizens, food thinkers and nutritionists, to students and graphic designers, were challenged to redesign the Nutrition Facts Label to make it easier to read and more useful to people who want to consume healthier, more nutritious and wholesome food.

Between GMOs, trans fats, palm oil and high fructose corn syrup, there are a lot of nasty ingredients for conscious consumers should avoid when shopping for groceries.

Unfortunately, few families have time to meander slowly down the aisles, deciphering labels and comparing one product’s barely-recognizable ingredient list to another. What shoppers need is a clear, transparent labeling system that lets them know exactly what they’ll be putting into their bodies if they buy a certain product.

Ultimately, the contest’s organizers hoped that the creativity and passion demonstrated by the winning entries would inspire the FDA, which is in the process of revising the national nutrition label.

The judges, which included author and activist Michael Pollan and anti-sugar crusader Robert Lustig, finally awarded first price to Renee Walker, a visual designer who came up with a simple but elegant style that quietly urges shoppers toward the smartest food options. Walker also won the people’s choice award.

Walkers labels are “dominated by a color-coded box that shows the breakdown of ingredients, including unappetizing shades of gray for additives and preservatives. So in one glance you can tell, say, which of these peanut butters has added filler and which one is mostly ground-up nuts,” writes

“[I]t’s a step in the right direction,” Pollan says of Walker’s design. “What I’d like to see next is some sort of color coding for the food groups and some attempt to show the degree of processing of various foods. Eating doesn’t have to be complicated; figuring out what’s in your food shouldn’t be either.”

Click on the thumbnails below to see other designs from the competition. Which is your favorite?

Related Reading:

New USDA Rule Would Require Meat Additives On Nutrition Labels

Misleading Eco-Labels On Seafood

Flame-Retardant Chemicals Found In Common Foods

via Fast Company

Images via


William C
William C6 months ago

Thank you for the article.

Jim Ven
Jim V11 months ago

thanks for sharing.

Duane B.
.4 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Anton K.
Past Member 5 years ago


Melinda K.
Past Member 6 years ago

what they really need is nutrition education in class at schools, from an early age.

Abbe A.
Azaima A6 years ago

nice idea

Dianne Robertson
Dianne Robertson6 years ago

The closer to fresh, raw foods the better.Of course,ALWAYS read labels BUT it's MUCH easier to know what you're getting if you buy INGREDIENTS then cook MEALS.You won't have high fructose corn syrup in your kidney beans unless YOU WANT IT there IF YOU COOK THE BEANS. Remember all the talk about "HOME COOKING"? too can have it in the privacy of your own homes! BUY stuff COOK it.Women--and probably some men--were cooking BEFORE STOVES were invented. The color codes are really nice and will help remind me why I buy whole wheat pasta,tomatoes,onions green peppers,celery basil, garlic and lemon pepper instead of spagetti o's.But you cook for one so it's better to just microwave something? It is? Since youre alone you're not worth the trouble? THAT'S SAD!YOU MAY BE ALL YOU'VE GOT. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. Haven't you heard YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT! I DON'T WANT to be FRUCTOSE when I COULD BE BLUEBERRYS---FRESH or FROZEN ,NO SUGAR ADDED---unless YOU do!

Jane R.
Jane R6 years ago

Always read the labels! It's never been too hard to know if it contains bad or unhealthy additions.

Kelli Em
Kelli Em6 years ago

thanks :)

Miranda R.
Miranda R6 years ago

Educating ourselves and others is the best way to avoid unwanted additives/pesticides in our foods. I agree with a previous poster; buying produce from a local farmer's market, and asking questions of the grower, is likely our best bet.